It is beach season. With good weather comes more traffic to the beach. More traffic to the beach means an increase in the number of car wrecks on the Pensacola Bay Bridge. We are also getting a new bridge. The new bridge will be great for traffic when it is built. However, for the next few years, construction of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge will also bring lane changes, construction cones, and drivers watching cranes and pile drivers rather than watching the road. Expect the construction to compound and increase the number of crashes on the bridge this year. Hopefully, you will not be in a car accident, but it is always good to know ahead of time what to do if you are. We have come up with 4 of our top suggestions for what to do if you are in an automobile accident on the Pensacola Bay Bridge.
- Call 911 – It is important to get police and emergency responders to the accident as quickly as possible. First of all, you want to make sure you or whoever is in the accident get quick medical attention. Also, because of the traffic problems on the bridge, getting law enforcement on scene will help protect you from inattentive drivers and get traffic moving again. We stress to call 911 rather than the Pensacola Police Department, Gulf Breeze Police Department, or Florida Highway Patrol because the Pensacola Bay Bridge odd in that it is a state road, a Federal Highway, and splits police jurisdiction between two cities and counties. To complicate matters, the local law enforcement agencies have interlocal agreements about how to respond to a car accident based upon whether an incident is in the northbound or southbound lanes. Rather than try to figure out yourself which law enforcement agency to call, call 911 and their dispatchers will get the appropriate response based upon the situation.
- Stay in Your Car — Unless your car is on fire, in danger of falling off the bridge, or some other rare emergency, your car is the safest place to be due to traffic concerns. In many locations, experts recommend getting out of your car in a car accident. However, because there is no shoulder and no safe emergency lane on the bridge, your car provides protection from drivers slowing down and trying to avoid the accident scene.
- Pull Your Car to the Side — If you can pull your car to the emergency lane on the outside of the bridge, then do so. Even though there is not a very wide emergency lane on the bridge, if you can get your car out of the lane of travel, you will be safer. That will also help traffic move more swiftly and will make it easier for first responders to get to the scene.
- Gather Evidence — Once first responders have gotten to the scene and it is safe to get our of your car, take pictures of your car and any other vehicles involved. Get witness names, numbers, addresses, and even email addresses. Get whatever information you can to make sure your accident and how it happened are documented. Hopefully, you are not injured and do not need to make a personal injury claim, but if you do, the evidence you gather at the scene could be helpful to a lawyer representing you.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.